The all-electric SUV is ready to hunt down criminals in Switzerland.
As the electric vehicle grows in popularity, it's not just civilians that are abandoning the ICE ship. The battery-powered car is starting to become a common sight in emergency vehicle fleets across the world; even the FBI has a Mustang Mach-E for patrol duties.
Joining in on the trend is the Swiss police force, which has recently taken delivery of the world's first BMW iX patrol vehicle. Unlike a regular version, the automaker has fitted the electric SUV with special equipment designed for policing duties. Aside from the orange "Polizei" stickers, the xDrive50 variant comes equipped with roof-mounted lights, supplemented by blue warning flashers at the front and yellow lights in the tailgate.
If that still fails to get slow-moving traffic out the way, more emergency lights can be found in the side mirrors and on the front bumper. The roof beam has a rather nifty trick. Thanks to the stop signal matrix, officers can communicate with road users via a selection of messages, such as "stop police," "accident," or "please follow."
Inside, the electric Bimmer retains its luxurious innards, but the dashboard has been altered slightly. An additional monitor supports the camera system, and a Polycom police scanner has been fitted to the dash. Being the xDrive50 model, there's plenty of punch at the driver's disposal should officers need to respond to the scene of a crime. 516 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque silently propel the iX to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
But surely an electric car is no good in the cut-and-thrust world of police activity? An EPA-estimated range of 324 miles should prove more than enough for an average day's work. BMW makes no mention as to how the car will be used, but we're guessing it will be charged at night and alternate shifts, much like its drivers. Hopefully, the BMW's resident precinct has fast chargers.
In April, Washington law enforcement expressed disdain for their Tesla Model Y patrol car. Aside from the cramped interior, officers cited challenges around charging the SUV, which proved difficult as the department had no fast chargers. To make matters worse, the vehicles only had three hours of downtime between shifts.
In the United States, BMW may be known best as a prestigious high-performance brand. But in several other markets, various governments have seen the potential of these vehicles and use them for demanding tasks. The 5 Series is a particular favorite of German patrolmen, and the British constabulary is rather fond of six-cylinder diesel-powered BMWs - although Tesla's are becoming popular across the pond.
Elsewhere, such as in Australia, the M3 has been pressed into duty as a highway patrol vehicle. BMW says it used all the experience it has with past emergency vehicles and put it to good use. The result is a usable and practical electric vehicle for the eco-conscious Swiss nation.
Interestingly, BMW electric vehicles have also served as police vehicles in America. Unfortunately, the LAPD i3s didn't work well, and the entire project resulted in a massive loss.